BURLINGTON — After almost 37 years in business, Burlington’s Cottonpicker Restaurant is closing its doors as owner Bill Foster retires.

Foster, 69, of Burlington, inherited the business from his father, who first opened the Cottonpicker in March of 1976. The wooded plot at 2600 Browns Lake Drive later came to host an iconic duck pond and two miniature horses, as well as the supper club that served prime rib for both lunch and dinner every day.

The closing is sad, said Foster’s daughter Kathy Prailes, but “at this point, there’s just nobody to come in and run the business.”

Although she currently co-owns her own restaurant in Waterford, Prailes, 41, still remembers standing on a milk crate sorting Cottonpicker silverware at 10 years old, when she first started helping at her dad’s restaurant. She remembers her grandfather coming home on weekends and poring over the business’s books.

“Thirty-seven years is a long time, a lot of memories,” said Prailes, of Waterford. “It’s a lot of mixed emotions.”

Nevertheless, Prailes said the timing of her father’s retirement ended up aligning with the City of Burlington’s call to hook the restaurant into the city sewer system, an approximately $100,000 endeavor that “the business, financially, just can’t take on,” she said.

The Cottonpicker is set to close Oct. 14. Prailes said the building, along with its duck pond, will go on sale. Its contents will be auctioned later in October.

The Cottonpicker currently employs around 40 people. About a dozen of them work at the supper club full time, Prailes said.

Foster is planning one last hurrah for the restaurant Oct. 14, hosting a customer and employee appreciation party from 4 to 7 p.m.

Prailes said there will be a cash bar, snacks and — most importantly — a chance for people to gather together to share almost 40 years of memories.

(7) comments


When Joan ran the business, food was great, service was top notch. After her passing the business shortly faltered. As Rosz, our experience was the same and went elsewhere. Meals were cold, portions considerably cut, service substandard and increased prices led us elsewhere. The restaurant went from waiting an hour for a table to being the only people there. Its sad to see, we really loved how beautiful they would decorate for the holidays... but like everything- "there comes a time to evaluate whether to move forward or toss in the towel"....


Always an enjoyable time at The CP... and yes, ordmm is correct, sad to see the supper club disappear...


I think you can get Schaum Torte at House of Gerhard in Kenosha


That is sad ! About 25 years ago, our family got tired of only seeing relatives on my Dad's side only at funerals, so we started all meeting there the first Wed of every month at 1pm. Had a hard core of 8 with 21 one Christmas! We are down to 2 of us! Always good food and service . All of us met there, because it was 21 to 22 miles for each of us! Milwaukee,Eagle,Kenosha and Racine ! Where will we find Schaum Torte now ?? Thanks for the memories - we will try to get out there before the 14th!


I love the Cottenpicker and am sorry they are closing. It is my favorite restaurant.


Been so many years since I've been out there. In any event...gonna miss all the old time "supper clubs"...the ones with the good bar, the relish tray on your table, and the good freinds. Everything changes.


We used to love Cottonpicker, but the last 3 times we were there, we've been totally disatisfied.
The service is poor and the food has been cold. High time they hang it up! The last time we were there, the waitress brought my husband sometime other than what he'd ask for. She said they were all out of it. She didn't even offer to deduct it from our bill. When we were on our way out of the restaurant, we say another person being served what she told us they were out of. Oh yes, and on our bill, it's an extra $ .50 for an olive in your cocktail! Just 1 olive! Rediculous! We understand now why they don't have much business!

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